How RFID Can Help Track and Control Cannabis
The cannabis industry continues to grow as more states are legalizing recreational and medicinal marijuana. Along with more legalization, the industry can expect greater regulations—at both the state and federal level—to require a chain of custody that follows the product from seed to sale.
We are beginning to the see the industry trend toward a required seed-to-sale procedure, emulating the agriculture model. Similar to a produce product, cannabis should be tracked throughout its entire cultivation and growing process until it’s on shelves, so the entire growing process is understood, passes all regulations, and appears as a safe product at a distributor or retailer.
While not all states currently require the detailed seed-to-sale procedure, most require standard RFID tag implementation—and most growers are unaware of how to leverage this technology for benefits beyond compliance. Here are two ways growers can leverage RFID technology to benefit their business and, ultimately, their customers.
Tracking Greenhouse Operations
Many growers have RFID tags in place to meet state requirements, but are not fully utilizing the tags’ potential as a track and trace system. In fact, many growers are still doing manual manipulation and recording for chain-of-custody transactions within their greenhouses.
RFID can be used to quickly and accurately to capture operations activities. Once a plant is tagged with an RFID tag, growers can use a reader to scan each transaction related to that plant and create a detailed history of when it moved and who moved it—without the need for manual entry and potential human error.
In addition, tracking operations through a streamlined real-time platform provides a better, more accurate inventory catalog. As for any business, a thorough and accurate inventory catalog is vital to understand the work process, movements, cycle counts, and physical counts within your operations on a regular basis. And tracking each movement of every plant through RFID technology provides a detailed, big-picture understanding of your greenhouse operations.
Control Product Quality
The legalized marijuana industry is relatively new and is still evolving. As an industry that is still in the developing stages, there’s a significant amount of product differentiation—even from lot to lot within a single greenhouse. With RFID technology, growers can improve and control their product output by leveraging data to gain insights to develop a more consistent product quality.
Similar to agriculture, the cannabis industry can strengthen its product quality by controlling and consistently maintaining optimal greenhouse variables. Growers can also integrate BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), a technology that can collect various environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, or light cycles inside greenhouses when properly implemented.
BLE functions through active RFID tags containing additional sensors that allow them to actively collect environmental data. Once the tags are set, the technology automatically outputs the data—without the need of scanning the tags—for real-time information access. This helps growers capture and aggregate greenhouse data to analyze operations and make improvements based on optimal results.
A controlled and consistent product benefits both growers and consumers. By investing in this type of data-gathering tool, growers have a competitive advantage—the ability to create a consistent product through variable optimization for consumer product integrity and confidence. Ultimately, growers will benefit from consumer loyalty and satisfaction and be able to continue to grow their business.